Apply for Catalyst 2018: AAJA’s Media Entrepreneurship Program

Applications are now open for Catalyst, a three-day boot camp for founders of color who want to learn how to fund and launch their own media products. The program is scheduled to take place November 8-10, 2018 at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY in New York City. 

We’re looking for people who are passionate about media and journalism, and who aspire to take their side hustles to the next level. Full-time and freelance journalists living in the US or abroad are encouraged to apply. If you’re interested in being a part of the Catalyst class of 2018, please submit your application by 11:59pm PT on Friday, September 28. Applicants will be notified of their application status by mid-October.

While it costs nothing to apply, once you’re accepted into the program, there is a $400 program fee for AAJA members and $700 for non-AAJA members. If you’re not yet an AAJA member, you can register for an annual membership here. The Catalyst program fee includes the program training plus breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The program fee includes workshops, speaker panels, and one-on-one mentoring sessions where you will:

  • Create a compelling pitch deck.
  • Get best practices on how to bring your product to market, measure the right metrics, and make your product financially sustainable.
  • Find out how venture capitalists evaluate founders and their startups.
  • Understand how the foundation grant-making process works.
  • Join a growing community of media investors, advisors, and founders of color.
  • Hear from other media startup founders about their own journeys.

AAJA is also offering $500 travel stipends to a limited number of recipients. If you’re interested in a travel stipend, please fill out the “Optional: Travel Stipend” section at the bottom of the application.




Program Facilitators

Sharon Pian Chan is Vice President of Innovation, Product & Development at The Seattle Times. For most of her career, she was a journalist. She has served as national president of the Asian American Journalists Association. She received her B.A. from Pomona College and M.B.A. from MIT.









Manami Kano is a strategy consultant and until recently Deputy Director, Global Media Grants and Partnerships at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In this role, Manami oversaw ~$25M in grants for media and journalism projects globally to foster evidence-based public dialogue on global health, poverty and domestic education. Manami previously spent a decade in leadership roles and consulting for nonprofit organizations in the arts, media and social justice sectors.










Burt Herman is director of innovation projects for the Lenfest Institute for Journalism, the parent organization of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Previously, he co-founded Storify, a social media storytelling platform used by top media organizations, brands and non-profit organizations that has won numerous awards for journalism innovation. Burt is also co-founder of Hacks/Hackers, the largest global grassroots movement bringing together journalists and technologists. In his earlier work as a journalist, Burt covered stories around the world for The Associated Press as a correspondent and bureau chief for 12 years. Burt was a 2009 Knight journalism fellow at Stanford University, where he earlier graduated with bachelor’s and master’s degrees.






Hong Qu is the Program Director for Technology at the Shorenstein Center at Harvard Kennedy School. Hong was a designer on YouTube’s startup team and launched their key features including the homepage, user channels, and video sharing. He was VP of product at Upworthy and chief technology officer at Fusion Media. He was a visiting Nieman fellow in 2013 and has been an adjunct professor at CUNY School of Journalism since 2015. Hong is a graduate of Wesleyan University and UC Berkeley.







Christina Shih is the COO of the News Revenue Hub and oversees the operations and strategic growth of the Hub. She also designs and leads the trainings for NewsMatch, a grassroots fundraising campaign for nonprofit news organizations. Prior to the Hub, Christina managed Voice of San Diego’s membership program where she helped increase the member base by 42%. She has a background in mission driven event planning and spent four years planning high-level donor cultivation events for art museums.










Jason Blade and Nick Chen are the co-founders of Pico, a Brooklyn-based startup building a suite of essential direct-to-consumer business tools, from a CRM to subscription management, for newsrooms and digital communities. Although the two founders have known each other for most of their lives, having grown up and studied at Stanford together, Pico only came to fruition recently in 2016 as a proposed antidote to fake news and the extreme consolidation of power in the advertising market. With their backgrounds in behavioral economics and product design, Jason and Nick are aiming to lower the barriers of entry for any digital-native business to build relationships with and earn revenue directly from their audience.





Jeremy Caplan is Director of Education for the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY. At Time Magazine, he covered companies like Google, Apple and Yahoo and wrote about cultural trends ranging from carrot-mobs and cereal cafes to mini-lit and life-hacking. He was a Ford Fellow in Entrepreneurial Journalism at the Poynter Institute, a Wiegers Fellow at Columbia Business School, where he completed his MBA, and a Knight-Bagehot Fellow at the Columbia Journalism School. He lives in New York City with his wife and two daughters.







Amy Chen is Director of Entrepreneurship Programs at NYC Media Lab where she focuses on the Lab’s early-stage accelerator program called The Combine. She oversees programming, the alumni network, the mentor network and other partnerships for the Combine. Previously, at NYC Media Lab, she was Manager of Partnerships and she was responsible for prototyping and innovation projects between the Lab’s corporate members and participating universities. Prior to joining NYC Media Lab, she was the Community Manager at the Urban Future Lab, a startup incubator focused on cleantech and smart city technology. She has also worked on civic technology initiatives when she was an Urban Fellow with NYC’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications. She graduated from Barnard College with a BA in Economics and NYU Stern School of Business with an MBA.





Jenny Choi assists the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism by providing leadership and coordination of diversity-oriented grants, interacting with funders on behalf of the school, ensuring that programmatic goals are being met, working to ensure that all our diversity-related activities are coordinated, and helping with fundraising. Jenny joined the News Integrity Initiative as its first associate director for strategic partnerships in November 2017. She previously served as the vice president and chief content officer for the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (a research organization for social justice philanthropy), managed the journalism portfolio of grants at the Robert R. McCormick Foundation in Chicago, and served as director of strategic initiatives at Chicago Public Media.





Gary Chou is the founder of Orbital, a studio for building networks, and Faculty at School of Visual Arts MFA in Interaction Design program where he co-teaches Entrepreneurial Design with Christina Xu. Previously, Gary worked at Union Square Ventures where he created the USV Network. He advises Austin Center for Design, which exists to transform society through design and design education; and Venture for America, which seeks to revitalize American cities and communities through entrepreneurship. As an active supporter of independent creators, he has executive produced two award-winning films and backed numerous Kickstarter projects.






Jarrod Dicker is an entrepreneurial technology and media executive. He is currently the Chief Executive Officer of, a platform for a new decentralized media economy. Prior to, Dicker served as innovation chief at the Washington Post as Vice President of Innovation and founded RED, the Post’s research experimentation and development team. There he oversaw the companies technology, product, operations and strategy across the entire business. Before the Washington Post, Dicker lead strategy, product and technology teams at RebelMouse, Time Inc. and the Huffington Post. He also sits on the Board of Advisors for Rutgers University School of Innovation and Mogul Inc., a technology platform that enables women worldwide to share ideas and access content based on personal interests.





Stuart Karle is a partner and general counsel of North Base Media, a boutique firm that invests in media in emerging markets and technology that supports journalism. NBM has invested in journalism-focused companies in Southeast Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and South America. He was the Chief Operating Officer of Reuters News from 2011 through 2013, and for many years was the principal lawyer at Dow Jones & Company working on news-related issues for all Dow Jones publications, print and electronic and the general counsel of The Wall Street Journal. He is also an adjunct professor teaching media law at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism since 2009.






Jim Kennedy is senior vice president, responsible for strategy and corporate development, for The Associated Press. He has been leading strategic planning for the world’s largest news organization since returning to AP in 2001 from The Wall Street Journal, where he was executive director of product planning for In an earlier stint with AP, Kennedy managed business news and financial services and later led the company’s first digital unit, called Multimedia Services. While AP business news editor, he served as a board member and later president of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, the national association of financial journalists. He is a founding member of the Online News Association, a current board member of Digital Content Next and an advisory board member of Matter Ventures, a media startup accelerator. A native of Watertown, N.Y., Kennedy is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Amherst College. 





Richard Lui has been named by Business Insider as one of 21 careers to watch alongside Warren Buffett and Sheryl Sandberg. Over the course of 30 years, Lui has launched six techbology brands over three business cycles, most recently with an artifiical intelligence company in Silicon Valley. After MBA at Michigan Ross School of Business, he joined Citibank where he co-created a fintech payment model he holds a patent for. He was a management consultant at Mercer for an IBM joint venture. Lui sits on four boards of directors / advisers in spaces ranging from international relations to artificial intelligence.







Lara Setrakian is an award-winning journalist, strategist and entrepreneur. She spent five years in the Middle East reporting via television, radio and digital platforms for ABC News, Bloomberg Television, the International Herald Tribune, Business Insider and Monocle magazine. Her 2009 coverage of Iran’s election protests and the Arab Awakening of 2011 garnered industry praise. Lara is a Young Global Leader with the World Economic Forum and a Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University, with a degree in government. Lara enjoys a strong yoga practice, reading poetry and cooking vegetarian meals.





Roxann Stafford brings together the worlds of social impact, entrepreneurship and design thinking. Her background in mechanical engineering, business, and psychology combines the analytical rigor and empathy necessary for sustainable systems design. She is the Director of Program (NYC) for Matter, a startup accelerator and venture capital firm grounded in the principles of design thinking that supports early-stage media entrepreneurs and mission-aligned media institutions building scalable ventures that make society more informed, inclusive, and empathetic. Roxann is passionate about redefining the VC and entrepreneurship landscape.



Can’t decide if Catalyst is right for you? Check out last year’s cohort and meet the coaches and guest speakers.


Still have questions? Reach out to Daniel Garcia at

You Might Also Like

Published by


hi! Hi hi hi!

Leave a Reply